As each day has passed in Argyll I feel as if my feet have become more web-like and I quack rather than talk. I’ve sploshed along, trying to take photos between frequent drownings.
After Oban the latter part of this week’s route has taken me through Knapdale, a vast rural area in Argyll & Bute. While idling away my time I came across a sign announcing the World Stone Skimming Championships! Were you aware of such a thing? They’ll take place this weekend on Easdale Island, a tiny inhabited island of the Inner Hebrides. Started in 1983, and resurrected in 1997 after a fallow period, there are categories for male and female contestants, children and adults, including the humorously named ‘Old Tosser’ category for those men and women aged over 60!
Dead-end walking continues too and as always these have been interesting: each of the peninsulas has its own very definite character. Before heading out to Craignish Point I walked through the tastefully designed Craobh Haven, a purpose-built village, resort and marina created in 1983. Later that day I pushed against winds to reach Craignish Point, beyond which is the world’s third largest tidal whirlpool, known as the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. Was it the head winds making me dizzy or was I feeling the effects of the whirlpool?!
Moving inland, Kilmartin Glen offered ancient, more modern and current points of interest. Overlooking the Glen, the roofless hollow shell of Carnassarie Castle, the home of Bishop Carswell in the 1500s, dominated the skyline. The Bishop had translated John Knox’s Book of our Common Order into Gaelic. This was the first book printed in Scot Gaelic, the language of the Highlands. Although highly regarded for its architecture, the castle has remained a ruin ever since Royalist forces set it ablaze in 1685.
From its vantage point the castle overlooks Kilmartin Glen, famed for its numerous prehistoric monuments. These include chambered cairns, standing stones and rock carvings. My route took me past Nether Largie South burial cairn, which is believed to have been built over 3,500 years ago, as well as the standing stones at Temple Wood. By contrast I also walked by a working gravel pit which was somewhat of a blot on today’s landscape.
Hurrying on, I knew I’d entered Knapdale (the land of hills and fields) district when I reached the Crinan canal. The canal marks one of the borders of the Knapdale district. I crossed this canal over a swing bridge at Bellanoch. Built for the old steam ‘puffers’ that moved goods and people between the Clyde and Scotland’s west coast settlements, the canal enabled ships to travel from Glasgow out to the Sound of Jura and the isles of the Inner Hebrides, without a long detour round the Mull of Kintyre. After next week, I suspect I may discover how long this detour can be when I head down to Campbeltown!
Since crossing that swing bridge I’ve clambered up numerous hills and walked by a multitude of forests. Another dead-end saw me battle foul weather close to Loch Sween as I tramped out to the very remote hamlet of Keillmore. Here, I found a charming old stone pier and a few scattered houses - nothing more! Next day I made my way down the other side of Loch Sween, towards the Point of Knap, before veering away around yet another Loch. It wasn’t long before I was dropping down towards the beautiful Ellary Estate where Autumn colours are beginning to appear in the trees.
This makes me aware of the passage of time and the subtle change of seasons. Sunset happens now at 1930. whereas a seemingly short time ago we watched it set at 2230. All these things, as well as the rain, turns my mind to the gradual approach of winter – my second on the Victory Walk.
See Photo Album No 47 – Approaching Autumn